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What Do Food Cravings Say About You?

What Do Food Cravings Say About You?

Occasional food cravings are something we all have in common. Some food cravings are caused by nutritional deficiencies, but others originate for more complicated reasons. Luckily, regardless of the cause, most cravings can be reduced. While certain sources of food cravings can be difficult to pinpoint, some very common food cravings have pretty surprising sources and solutions.

You Might Need To Balance Your Blood Sugar

When you’re reaching for cookies or ice cream, a lack of energy may be the problem. When your blood sugar levels take a dip, sugar cravings are extremely common. Though it might feel good in the moment, snacking on sugar will actually cause your blood sugar levels to spike. When your blood sugar levels fall shortly after, you’ll find yourself craving sweets all over again. Try snacking on some healthy complex carbohydrates or protein instead. Protein and healthy carbs (like whole grains and starchy vegetables) are digested slowly, so your blood sugar levels will stabilize, rather than being a roller coaster.

You Might Need To Hydrate

If you’re craving salty things, your body may need more water. When you’re dehydrated, you usually are low in electrolytes as well. Electrolytes are minerals our body uses to absorb water, some of which are found in salt. Drink a glass of water next time you feel a salty food craving coming on, and your problem may be solved.

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You Might Need A Checkup

Chronic salty food cravings can also be an indication of certain health complications. Addison’s disease and several different adrenal conditions are all preceded by salt cravings in some patients. If you’re having chronic salty food cravings, it might be time to for a quick checkup.

You Might Need Endorphins

A craving specifically for chocolate is sometimes your brains way of saying you’re low in feel-good chemicals. Endorphins are one such chemical released by the brain. A powerful boost for your mood, endorphins are also released when you eat chocolate, but also flood the system during sleep and exercise. Try taking a quick nap, or going for a run next time you can’t shake the chocolate cravings.

You Might Be Stressed Out

Another source of craving salty foods could be your mood. If you’re feeling stressed out or more anxious than usual, your adrenal glands are working overtime. Adrenal glands manage our stress responses, releasing hormones when we’re in a fight or flight state. Being angry or too stressed can essentially tire out your adrenal glands, causing an increase in salty food cravings. If this is the case, try blowing off some steam before you reach for salty snacks.

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You Might Be A Thrill Seeker

Believe it or not, even your personality can influence your cravings. If you’re the type of person who likes excitement, craving spicy foods might be common. Several studies have shown that strong cravings for spicy foods may be a sign your body is craving sensation. Try doing a few things out of the ordinary when you can’t get enough spice.

You Might Need To Change Your Habits

A lot of cravings are caused by habits and how you usually eat. For example, overindulging in salty foods on a regular basis will cause your body to crave more salty things. Similarly, habitually consuming refined sugar and fake sweeteners will trigger increased sugar cravings in the future. Fight these sources of food cravings by eating a diet full of variety and healthy sources of sugar and complex carbs.

You Might Need More Sleep

A recent study from UC Berkeley found a fairly direct link between lack of sleep and junk food cravings. By studying the way the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation, the study found that higher brain function was blunted, while functions like desire and motivation were amplified. This may lead to the participants preference for salty, fat laden junk food while sleep deprived.

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You Might Be Too Strict With Your Diet

If you’re on a diet, make sure you let yourself occasionally snack on sweet and salty foods. Measured indulgences can help stave off sudden, overpowering cravings for junk food. Especially if you’ve eliminated carbs and sweets, small portions of junk food can help avoid self-inducing a nutritional deficiency. Being overly restrictive with what you eat can end up causing more cravings than you need to deal with.

You Might Have Natural Cravings

If you’re a lady fighting food cravings, you should keep in mind your monthly cycle. Unfortunately, cramps and bloating aren’t the only friends Mother Nature brings with her to visit. If it’s that time of the month, you’re likely to experience increased food cravings. Part of these cravings may come from your body’s increased need for energy, but also may be related to a monthly lack of serotonin. Eating an extra serving or so of carbs each day of your period will help boost serotonin, plus provides extra energy your body needs.

You Will Have Extra Cravings If You’re Pregnant

Additionally, if you’re pregnant, don’t forget that seemingly extreme food cravings will be a usual occurrence. there’s no need to panic however, the cravings you’re experiencing will fluctuate with the nutritional needs of your baby. In some circumstances, you may experience cravings for non edible items like chalk or dirt. This phenomenon is known as Pica, and tends to only occur in pregnant women. If your cravings are stretching beyond your kitchen table you might be one of them. If you think this might be the case, it’s a good idea to mention your cravings to a Dr.

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Cravings come in all varieties, but many solutions exist. Getting to the root of your craving will undoubtedly help you fight it. Don’t forget to give yourself a little bit of leeway in your daily diet. By listening to your body, and treating yourself well, you can become the master of your cravings.

Featured photo credit: reynermedia via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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